The Road Not Taken


Everyone is a traveler, carefully choosing which roads to follow on the map of life. There is never a straight path that leaves one with but a single direction in which to head. Robert Frost?s "The Road Not Taken" can be interpreted in many different ways. The shade of light in which the reader sees the poem depends upon her past, present, and the attitude with which she looks toward her future. In any case however, this poem clearly demonstrates Frost?s belief that it is the road that one chooses that makes him the man he is.
The central image that Frost presents, which is the path, provides a clear picture that the reader can focus on in order to reveal something about the poem. The "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" vividly portray the fact that it is always difficult to make a decision because it is impossible not to wonder about the opportunity that will be missed out on. There is a strong sense of regret before the choice is even made and it lies in the knowledge that in one lifetime, it is impossible to travel down every path that one encounters. In an attempt to make a decision, the traveler "looks down one as far as I could." The road that will be chosen leads to the unknown, as does any choice in life. As much as he may strain his eyes to see how far the road stretches, eventually it surpasses his vision and he can never see where it is going to lead. It is the path that he chooses that sets him off on his journey and determines where he is going and what he will encounter.
In the second stanza, Frost lets the reader know that the traveler has chosen to take the path less traveled by: "Then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim." The path that the speaker chose to travel down was obviously not for everyone, hence "the road less traveled by." The fact that the traveler took this path over the more popular, secure one indicates the type of personality he has. He does not feel the need to follow the crowd but rather to do more of what has never been done before.
The desire to travel down both paths is expressed and is not unusual. The speaker of this poem realizes that the decision is not just a temporary one and he "doubted if I should ever come back." This is his common sense speaking and acknowledging that what he chooses now will affect every other choice he makes afterward. Once you have performed an act or spoken a word that solidifies who you are, there is no turning back - it cannot be undone.
Once again, at the end of the poem, the regret hangs over the traveler like a heavy cloud. He realizes that at the end of his life, "somewhere ages and ages hence," he will have regrets about having never gone back and traveling down the roads he did not take. Yet he remains proud of his decision and he recognizes that it was this path that he chose that made him turn out the way and he did and live his life the way in which he lived it. To the speaker, what was most important about his choices in life is that he did what he wanted, even if it meant taking the road less traveled by. If he hadn?t, he wouldn?t be the same man he is now.
In his poem, Frost has successfully illustrated the concept of making choices and facing the consequences of those choices. The core of this poem is that there is a speaker who makes a decision that has changed the direction of his life from what it may have otherwise been. Everyday we are faced with these life-changing decisions, no matter how small or insignificant they may be. Frost has gracefully depicted the entire process of making choices in this poem.